Saturday, 24 February 2024
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

Looking for a romantic getaway this Valentine’s Day, look no further. The popular website, Luxury Travel Magazine, has published an article entitled “Celebrate St. Valentine's Day in Croatia's Most Romantic Cities,” and Dubrovnik features on their list.

With the recent mild and indeed warm weather this Valentine’s Day could be the ideal time to visit the south of Croatia. To enhance the whole romantic feeling the Dubrovnik Tourist Board has organised a diverse and rich program for Valentine's Day, including concerts and free guided tours of the historic Old City. There will also be, from the 10th to the 14th of February, a special Valentine's Gourmet Days action in which selected Dubrovnik restaurants have created menus.

So what did Luxury Travel Magazine think of Dubrovnik at the most romantic time of the year?

“Dubbed the "Pearl of the Adriatic," Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with well-preserved medieval architecture. In the most romantic period of the year, from February 10th to the 14th, Dubrovnik transforms into a haven of love, captivating couples and romantics alike with a series of enchanting events. Lovebirds and history enthusiasts can delve into the city's romantic past through the themed tours titled "Tracing Love Through the Ages," wrote the magazine.

 

So I learnt much of my Croatian through assimilation, a more practical approach rather than a theoretical one. I would see someone drop a pen and logically work out what they said from the action. This week I learnt a whole new word, one that I was I could immediately forget. That word – catheter.

Not only was the word a new one but the whole process of using it was new to me. Although my whole family works or worked in the health system in the UK, I have pretty much successfully avoided almost anything to do with hospitals and medicine for over 50 years.

Babies and old people have a lot in common - if they don't get naps they get mad – they both wear diapers – they both don’t have teeth and they both eat mushy food. Yes, babies and the elderly share many things. “I must have changed hundreds of nappies over the years, and now I am wearing them,” laughed my mother-in-law.

She has been staying with us for the past couple of weeks due to a problem with her health.

I have been sent to the pharmacist to buy lots of different things but never 100 catheter bags. “Please don’t ask me anything about this, I am here solely and exclusively as a messenger and I have no knowledge of the case in any form,” I said to the smiling pharmacist before handing over the details.

Of course curiosity got the better of me and I Googled catheter when I got home. WTF! Is this some Medieval torture device! Unfortunately, I stumbled over the male version first. My eyes are watering just writing this, and my penis is retracting like the head of a tortoise into its shell.

I phoned my sister (a trained nurse) to get the full story. Bad idea number two! “Just make sure that she doesn’t pull it out by mistake,” said my sister with a look of pain on her face. She came close once (another trip to the ER) but apart from a few messy hiccups passed her catheter phase.

I joked with her “Let me give you some advice, don’t get old,” – “I think it’s a little late,” she smiled.

“Although there is one benefit of old age,” I said. “Your secrets are always safe with your friends …because they can’t remember them!”

She needed to spend two nights in hospital after a routine operation. And by far her biggest worry wasn’t anything to do with medicine or the procedure, no, her panic was that she was going to miss two episodes of her TV serials. I know that one (or maybe two) is Turkish because whenever it comes on she turns the volume to mute. “I can’t listen to that language; it sounds like they are fighting the whole time.”

And another one has something to do with a village in the Dalmatian hinterland where everyone seems to do their best to avoid doing any work. Of course I recorded the first few seconds of that series and sent it to her on her first night in hospital just to annoy her even more.

“We’ve got a TV,” she called me on the second day. “Although it’s a little tired, sometimes it just turns off by itself,” she said. She follows all these serials religiously, and has a set daily routine, flicking from one station to the next. She has the schedule and timing down to a fine art.

The weekends are the worst. No Turkish serials, or daytime TV. If it wasn’t for The Voice (or as Croatians say Da Voice) she would go mad. So her first call from hospital as to say that she was able to watch the serials, not to talk about her procedure!

And here I should say a huge thank you to all the staff in the hospital. They all do an incredible job and deserve to be paid much (much) more. It’s a strange world we live in where a waiter earns more than a doctor. I just hope the next new word I stumble across has nothing to do with any form of medical procedure! 

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik

 

Over 15 thousand locals and guests arrived in Dubrovnik yesterday to pay homage to the patron saint of the City of Dubrovnik, St. Blaise, as his Festivity was celebrated for the 1052nd time.

And it was a day that followed the tradition in every way. Firstly, the weather was perfect, with blue skies and golden sunshine, and more importantly the grand procession followed the same pattern as it has for the past thousand years.

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Photo - Bozo Radic / CROPIX

And the calm and warm weather made the grand procession through the streets of the city even more magnificent, adorned with a large number of flags and banners from church parishes throughout Croatia and beyond. Among them, it is worth mentioning the flag from the Indian state of Goa, once a trading colony of the ancient Republic of Dubrovnik, where a Church of Saint Blaise is located.

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Photo - Bozo Radic / CROPIX

After the solemn Mass celebration, the procession, carrying the relics of Saint Blaise and other saints, including the special relics of the head of Saint Blaise and the relic of Jesus' swaddling clothes carried under a canopy, started from the cathedral, passing through the stone streets of the Old City.

 

Americans spend twice as much as the average tourist to Croatia, approximately 300 euros per person per day. They seek quality and are willing to pay for it. These are the guests everyone wants, and Croatia is one of their favourite destinations, especially one Adriatic city, according to Dnevnik.hr.

“We have everything they are looking for. Fantastic nature, tradition, history, highly personalized experiences – the human factor is something irreplaceable. I would also emphasize another aspect, and that is multigenerational travel where the safety aspect is very important, and Croatia provides it," stated Leila Krešić-Jurić, the director of the Croatian Tourist Board representation in the United States.

At the New York trade fair, 500 exhibitors from 170 countries presented themselves, and the Croatian Tourist Board was recognized as one of the best exhibitors and the most visited.

Related - Croatia's Tourism Spotlight: Dazzling Success at New York Travel & Adventure Show!

At the trade fair in New York, 500 exhibitors from 170 countries presented themselves, and the Croatian Tourist Board received recognition as one of the best and most visited exhibitors. Numerous Croatian agencies, hotels, and 11 Croatian destinations showcased their offerings. When asked which Croatian city Americans love the most, the answer was Dubrovnik.

Tour guide Sanja Čikato said that the guests are very easy-going and satisfied. "When I mention that we have a pharmacy from the 14th century, that we have a quarantine, that slavery was abolished in 1416, and America was not yet discovered, only in 1492, they are simply fascinated," she added.

Last year, 700 thousand Americans visited Croatia, generating over two million overnight stays. Even more are expected this year.

 

With the traditional releasing of doves, reading of the proclamation, and raising banners in front of the Church of St. Blaise, the 1052nd Festivity of St. Blaise was opened today on Candlemas Friday.

The ceremony was led by Dubrovnik Bishop Monsignor Roko Glasnović, who emphasized on this occasion that St. Blaise is here to continue helping us in difficult situations and challenges that lie ahead.

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Photo - Bozo Radic / CROPIX

 

Dubrovnik Heritage Ltd. is once again, in its traditional manner, organizing the Fair at Lazareti in celebration of the Festivity of St. Blaise.

The fair is taking place on the plateau in front of the Lazareti complex just east of the Old City of Dubrovnik, and this year's offerings are more diverse than ever. In addition to wrought and wooden items, footwear, clothing, jewellery, toys, and flowers, there are also sweets, as well as local products such as cheese, prosciutto, tea, honey, and natural cosmetics.

The fair will be open until Sunday, February 4.

 

The Dubrovnik Tourist Board, in collaboration with the City of Dubrovnik, is once again organizing the traditional "Tombula," a favourite entertainment event for the Festivity of St. Blaise, which will take place on Saturday, February 3, starting at 4 p.m.

Tickets will be sold from 3 p.m. in front of the Sponza Palace at a price of two euros. The Dubrovnik Tourist Board invites everyone to participate in this entertaining charity game, and the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Association "Together for Health."

According to the tradition dating back to 1842, as noted by the Dubrovnik historian Josip Bersa, in the afternoon of the Festivity of St. Blaise, the game of tombula (bingo) will be played again in front of the Sponza Palace.

Tombula on Stradun is a traditional event because this game is deeply rooted in Dubrovnik's tradition and family life.

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The Dubrovnik-Neretva County Tourist Board is participating in the Salon des Vacances fair, the 65th edition of which is taking place from February 1 to 4, 2024, at the Brussels Expo exhibition space.

At this fair, a 40m2 booth is shared by the tourist boards of Dubrovnik-Neretva, Split-Dalmatia, Zadar, Šibenik-Knin, Lika-Senj counties, Kvarner, the City of Zagreb, and the representation of the Croatian Tourist Board in Brussels.

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The Salon des Vacances fair highlights different themes each year, raising awareness among exhibitors and visitors while providing an opportunity for visitors to better acquaint themselves with the DNA of their next holiday destination. This year's themes include: Best in tourist accommodation, Honeymoon and wedding anniversaries and Zen, well-being, and eco-responsibility on vacation.

In 2023, tourists from Belgium recorded 28,021 arrivals and 86,125 overnight stays in destinations within the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

 

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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